Integrating Macs® into Azure® AD

Written by Zach DeMeyer on April 12, 2019

Share This Article

As Microsoft® pushes IT organizations to Azure®, many are wondering what the impact is for their non-Windows® resources. Obviously, while systems running Windows are widespread, usage of other resources is growing rapidly, and management needs for these resources are growing, too. Azure has a built-in identity management suite called Azure Active Directory® (AD), but its use is raising questions. For instance, how will IT admins integrate their Macs® into Azure AD?

Microsoft Identity Management

The question of Mac integration is a reasonable one for IT admins prior to making the move to go to Azure and their associated services, such as Azure Active Directory®. The truth is that Azure AD isn’t really a core directory service like its on-prem namesake, Microsoft Active Directory®. Rather, Azure AD is designed more as a complement to AD, and essentially acts as an extension of on-prem identities to Azure and select web applications.

As a complementary solution to the on-prem directory service, AD, Azure AD wasn’t meant to be a directory service for on-prem systems and non-Windows or non-Azure-linked applications or infrastructure. Specifically, admins continually struggle to manage Mac systems via Azure AD and even through Microsoft’s traditional AD infrastructure. Generally, IT admins have leveraged directory extension solutions to accomplish the task of integrating Macs with AD, and now it seems the tradition lives on with Azure AD.

Third Party Add-Ons

For IT organizations that are willing to continue to use AD on-prem and then federate their identities to Azure AD, an on-prem directory extension solution may be viable. Of course, there are challenges like more infrastructure to manage on-prem, as well as extra costs. This approach also hardly enables IT admins to integrate Macs directly into Azure AD. Instead, admins often end up being tied to an on-prem AD infrastructure combined with a slew of add-ons.

Such a stance, while viable for standard identity management, is rapidly losing popularity in the modern era. Forbes predicts that, by next year, 83% of enterprise workloads will be leveraged from the cloud. Although Azure is cloud-based, Active Directory is staunchly not, and will most likely never be. So, for organizations that use AD and Azure AD, but want to go completely cloud, is there an identity management option that integrates Macs from the cloud?

Cloud Mac Integration with Directory-as-a-Service®

A new generation of cloud identity management solution is taking a completely different approach to directory services. Instead of a Microsoft or Azure-centric approach, this cloud directory is connecting users to their IT resources including systems, applications, files, and networks regardless of platform, protocol, provider, and location. Said another way, IT admins can centralize user management and extend identities to Office 365™ (and Azure AD, by extension), G Suite™, AWS®, web applications, legacy LDAP application, WiFi and VPNs, and file storage solutions on-prem or in the cloud. Essentially, end users have one identity for virtually all of their IT resources while IT admins can centrally manage their entire access control infrastructure.

All of this and more is available from the JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® product. Admins using Directory-as-a-Service can centralize their user identities under one set of credentials, essentially creating a True Single Sign-On™, or same sign-on, experience. This experience holds true for Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. JumpCloud admins can also utilize cross-platform group policy object (GPO)-like commands, called Policies, to mass manage entire system fleets. Examples of Policies include multi-factor authentication (MFA), full disk encryption (FDE), and more.

Try JumpCloud Free

If your organization has been struggling with integrating Macs into Azure AD, consider switching to JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service for your identity management approach. You can explore if Directory-as-a-Service is a good fit in your IT environment by either scheduling a demo with a product expert, or by simply signing up for JumpCloud. A JumpCloud account is absolutely free, with ten complementary users, available forever, to boot. Contact us to learn more.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter